Malheur trial Friday: FBI presents Facebook evidence

The trial is expected to last until November

Opening statements in the trial of 7 defendants in the  Malheur Refuge occupation began September 13, 2016 (For KOIN: Sketch Artist Deborah Marble)
Opening statements in the trial of 7 defendants in the Malheur Refuge occupation began September 13, 2016 (For KOIN: Sketch Artist Deborah Marble)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The third day of testimony is complete in the trial for the Malheur Wildlife Refuge occupiers.

Four FBI agents took the stand Friday to testify about searching Facebook accounts of the occupiers. Bureau of Land Management officer Jason Curry and the Burns BLM assistant district manager, Jeffrey Rose, also testified.

Rose said he made the call to close his office back in January because his staff got threatening emails in fall 2015. Rose said the militia called for others to come join their protest in Burns and threatened to remove federal agencies by force.

The FBI were called to the stand after digging into the occupiers Facebook accounts. Agents amassed hundreds of thousands of Facebook posts and private messages from the occupiers and presented their findings to the jury.

The FBI’s key finding was Ammon Bundy’s follow up to one of the messages sent to him by a follower. During the planning stages of the occupation, a supporter was asked Bundy about a call to action, he wrote back “I would never show up to a rally without my arms.”

There was also a photo, or meme, which Bundy shared on Facebook and his attorney asked Judge Anna Brown that prosecutors not show it to the jury. Brown declined, saying the photo gave the jury insight into Bundy’s mindset leading up to the occupation.

The photo was of a man in combat gear with his face completely masked, kneeling and holding a military assault rifle. The caption read “But they drew first blood. Forgive me Father, for I will sin.”

The defense also used Facebook to show that other occupiers had little to no contact with the Bundys prior to the occupation. This was an attempt to show that they did not conspire to impede federal officers.

Also on Friday, Brown denied Ammon Bundy’s motion for a mistrial.

Defendants Ryan Bundy, Ammon Bundy, Jeff Banta, Neil Wampler, Kenneth Medenbach, David Fry and Shawna Cox all plead not guilty to charges of impeding federal employees from carrying out their work at the refuge through intimidation, threats or force.

Malheur Wildlife Refuge employees are expected to take the stand when the trial reconvenes on Monday, September 26.

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